Company History Museum: High Value Hidden Asset

On a recent visit to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, we came across some items that were produced by a client company. It was such a pleasant surprise because we were in the middle of a project chronicling the company’s 130 year history. For the rest of the day we talked about the significance of our client’s products in our everyday lives. Their technologies would remain invisible unless presented as an experience, a museum.

Intel Museum in Santa Clara, CA

Corporate museums are essential for historical context of cities and towns. This is especially true for companies with a rich history of over 50 years. In many communities, corporations represent growth and industry. Generations of families continue to arise from corporations. They open the pathway to the American Dream. The company’s assets are its products, people, and processes. It is difficult to understand a corporation beyond its brand. Therefore a museum becomes beneficial for the public and employees to see physical objects: photos, products, and other company artifacts. People are more likely to remember history through experience than hearsay or reading.

Mill City Museum in Minneapolis, MN

Corporate history benefits many operational areas of the company: marketing, investor relations, brand/reputation, product development and human resources. To justify the creation of a corporate history museum we identified three benefactors:

Brand Equity

Brand equity is measured in three aspects: product category (or consumer association of brand with category), attribute-based (or perceived quality), and non-attribute-based (or cachet of ownership). Brand equity builds upon itself through persistent promotion and brand visibility.* In a corporate history museum, the aggregation of the advertising campaigns, products, and product packaging becomes a story of the company’s approach to becoming a recognized brand in its respective product categories. A public corporate museum gives visitors a chance to learn about events and products unique only to that company. From the experience, they share their enthusiasm via social media, buy company merchandise from the gift store, all of which contributes to brand equity. Overall, the museum becomes a living entity to which company milestones juxtapose world events.

Hershey Story Museum in Hershey, PA

Talent Management

Company reputation is a cornerstone for employee recruitment, engagement, and retention. Corporate history is tied to a company’s reputation. For recruitment marketing, corporate history is often used to attract new talent. For employee engagement and retention, corporate history is used to rally employees. Corporate history museums facilitate in all areas of talent management. The exhibition shows results created from the multinational collective of employees. From groundbreaking to breakthroughs, the museum is an experience that walks people through the company’s vision, mission, and culture.

GM Heritage Museum in Sterling Heights, MI

Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is no longer an elective. Companies must present its strategies and initiatives for improving social well-being and the environment. Often times these programs are employee volunteerism events, but more often CSR initiatives have a global reach. Within a corporate museum setting, the company’s commercial success is balanced with its contributions to social progress, education advancement, and environmental conservation.

Corporate history museums benefit brand equity, talent management, and corporate social responsibility. It is an exhibition of the company’s complex supply chain and ecosystem designed and operated by its global workforce. More than just a collection of corporate artifacts, the museum is a metaphor for ingenuity, perseverance, and teamwork. The museum is a showcase of the company’s humble beginnings, milestones, and success over many years. These publicly accessible museums are dedicated to the permanent presentation of the company’s business history.

Wells Fargo History Museum in San Francisco, CA

There are many more companies that showcase their corporate history in private exhibition. The lack of physical access to these museums has driven many corporations to create virtual museums in their place. We will discuss these virtual spaces in our next post.

*V. “Seenu” Srinivasan, Chan Su Park, Ph.D., Dae Ryun Chang, “Calculating the Dollar Value of Brand Equity”, Insights by Stanford Business, February 1, 2006.

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